For those who hold their own stock and are not part of a drop shipping business then finding the best value delivery prices for your items is a must if they want to save as much money as possible over the long haul. For those considering not holding and shipping any of their own stock then go ahead and read about handling a drop shipping business.
As more couriers and postage comparison websites enter the market the price of sending items for individuals and sellers alike has decreased as prices are driven down via a tightly battled price war. This article is written as of June, 2014 so any prices mentioned are subject to change.
1) Print off labels at home and drop off in store or get them collected
It’s becoming a great deal more common for small businesses to print off their own postage labels and then drop off packages at their local shop or collection point. Depending on the weight and dimensions of your parcel you could consider three different options.
Price comparison chart for UK delivery
For small items up to 750g, Royal Mail still offer the best rates for items under 1kg at £3.70 for up to 3 day delivery. For medium Items (up to 10kg) independent couriers such as My Parcel Delivery charge £6.90 with InterParcel also charging the same price. Other notable contenders include CollectPlus at £4.89 up to 2kg and £8.29 up to 10kg and MyHermes at £4.57 collection and £4.40 via their parcelshop (exc. VAT) for items between 2-5kg.
For bulky items over 10kg using a courier comparison website such as http://parcel2go.com, http://parcelmonkey.co.uk or http://postagesupermarket.com can help. The great thing about these types of websites is that they tend to buy bulk postage slots from couriers thus passing some incredibly high savings onto you. This tends to be for weightier larger dimension items but it's still always good to shop around.
2) For larger items try to reduce the package dimensions
Bear these dimensions and weights in mind but accept that each courier has their own specific rules:
- Small Parcels (Under 1kg)
- Medium Parcels (1kg – 2kg)
- Large Parcels (2kg – 10Kg)
- Extra Large Parcels (10kg – 30kg)
- Small Parcel Max Wide Option (35cm x 45cm x 8cm)
- Small Parcel Max Deep Option (35cm x 25cm x 16cm)
- Max Medium Parcel (61 x 46 x 46)
- Max Large to Extra Large Parcel (150cm Length)
You can reduce the package dimensions by tightly packing any corners on large items, using packing peanuts or bubble wrap that allows flexibility whilst maintaining safety of a parcel. That said, these are not usually biodegradable so consider biodegradable mushroom based packaging that uses 98% less energy. Also think about using lighter yet sturdier cardboard materials that are easy to bend, cut and shape around your items also reducing the weight of the parcel.
3) Know the weight and dimensions of all your items AFTER they are packed
Weigh your options
You should know the cost of sending any items prior to listing them on your online store as almost all sellers will want to know the cost of postage and packing, or if you offer free postage you should know how much it will cost. Get a set of reliable weighing scales that you can weigh your packets on, you have little time to try and balance all your large packages on a small scales as it clambers to keep up with the sheer weight of it all. See The Independent review of the best scales, sure they're bathroom scales but they do the job.
Also always have a soft tape measure to hand that you can easily wrap around objects if needed, this will provide you all the information you need to know which volumetric bracket your item falls into.
The worst thing that can happen is selling a batch of a new product having already set a postage cost based on the weight of the product prior to packing. You then find yourself in for a nasty shock as your packaging has increased both the dimension and weight.
4) Purchase packaging in bulk or even recycle
We’re firm believers in recycling any packaging we receive, the last thing we want are more trees cut down. Try to save your packaging, especially if it is still in good condition. If you’re worried about tarnishing your brand image then get creative and style up old boxes with paint, crayons and any decorations you can get your hands on, or even wrap the whole parcel in your own branded wrapping paper. Customers really do appreciate this type of effort.
If you are a high volume retailer or you plan to be then buying in bulk could save you a lot of money. Here are a few bulk sellers of parcels that could be of help:
http://www.viking-direct.co.uk/ – A hassle free 30 day trial and free delivery on orders over £30
http://www.zignig.co.uk/ – Free delivery on orders over £120 and orders dispatched the same day before noon
http://www.postpack.co.uk/ – Free next day delivery on orders over £50 and a 5% discount on orders over £100
Even though these services are convenient we also recommend you try to find your own packaging. Look in your loft, at warehouses and even on the street. Do your bit for mother nature first.
5) Send multiple items as a consignment to receive a discount
Some couriers like bulk orders and will give you a discount for doing so, one such courier is Parcelforce Worldwide that offers a 10% discount on global delivery via pallet order. Of course this only suits some retailers but if you're a furniture retailer with a huge market overseas this may be an option you could consider.
6) Claim VAT back if you're a registered business on your VAT return
If you're a taxable business don't forget to claim back on your VAT return for any delivery costs, keep all receipts and of course receive some professional advice. Your start by reading information on VAT and postal services at Royal Mail here and at the bastion of all things factual regarding tax, the HMRC VAT page which has a comprehensive guide on what you can and can't reclaim value added tax on.
Claim back the tax With a little preparation and knowledge you can save a great deal of money on delivery costs. We provide free eCommerce tips and advice on a whole host of merchant problems so subscribe to our newsletter below.